New 5 Year Farm Bill Decoded

February 04, 2014

The farm bill limbo has been a hard pill to swallow. What has become glaringly clear is that all the farming organizations want to be sure their farmers can continue to operate as risk-free as possible while producing the food we eat and export.

The farm bill limbo has been a hard pill to swallow. What has become glaringly clear is that all the farming organizations want to be sure their farmers can continue to operate as risk-free as possible while producing the food we eat and export.   

Continue reading for some interesting snippets from the latest edition of The Food Journal.

Mary Kay Thatcher of the American Farm Bureau tells us: “people are much more aware because we’ve had a lot of press. It’s very broad. A large majority of Americans are affected in some way whether it be with food stamps and school lunch programs, rural communities, water and waste facility grants, the hunters and the wetlands reserve program, to name only a few. “ 

As reported by the US States Committee on Agriculture Nutrition & Forestry, “the bill strengthens crop insurance, which is an essential cost-effective risk management tool.”

For the National Corn growers the commodity title was of interest because “if we have an extended drought for a period of years that could impact production, the Commodity Title program offers more protection as a revenue- based program addressing some of the long term risks,” explains Sam Willett.   

Western Growers’ Dennis Nuxoll tells us “we are absolutely interested in the nutrition title as those programs help feed both 40+ million Americans on assistance as well as help educate and provide products to our nation’s children via the school feeding programs. It’s this second aspect that is very interesting since there are programs in the farm bill that provide fresh fruits and vegetables to largely the underprivileged schools in communities across the country. Once exposed to healthy products, those children want more and more fruits and vegetables and we hope that programs like that help to educate and create good eating habits in the next generation.”

Although this might be true, a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that 59 percent of college students at a university in Oregon were classified as food insecure at some point during the last school year. That means they were not able to eat nutritious, safe foods consistently. A 2012 USDA study found that about 14.5 percent of American households were food insecure at some point during 2012, so the rate among the college students was nearly four times higher. The issue could get even steeper with this year’s Farm Bill.

Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Director, Congressional Relations, American Farm Bureau, spoke on behalf of their members. “There was a clear indication among our membership for the last three years that a) everyone was going to have to give up something for deficit reduction and b) crop insurance was the biggest priority,” says Thatcher.  “The message we heard was preserve what you can in the commodity title, but really try and protect crop insurance.  I don’t believe the Congressional Budget Office scores are out yet, but suspect that of the twelve titles of the farm bill, only two have more spending in the upcoming five years – one is crop insurance and the other is specialty crops.”

Click here for more on this topic at The Food Journal.